October is typically the month when most of the leaves drop off the trees in Minnesota, and while a lot of the state is currently covered in an early snow, odds are the weather will soon warm and we’ll be left with a bunch of wet leaves across our lawn. This means it’ll soon be time to layer up and grab a rake to help remove these excess leaves, and if you’re not careful, raking can do a number on your spine. In today’s blog, we share some tips for preventing back pain while you’re raking.
If you have to rake a big yard or anticipate raking a bunch over the next couple of weeks, keep these tips in mind.
1. Shuffle Your Feet – When you’re raking, make sure that you’re shuffling your feet and turning your body to face the direction you’re raking. If your feet stay pointed in the same direction while you reach and twist to rake leaves to your left and right, you’re going to be putting extra strain on your spine. This can lead to muscle, ligament and disc issues. Shuffle your feet and keep your body facing the direction you’re raking.
2. Break Up The Activity – If you have a particularly large yard, don’t try to get the entire lawn raked in one afternoon. Work on sections and break up the activity. If you try too do too much all at once, you can end up overloading your spine. Don’t be afraid to take a few breaks if it’s going to take you a while to rake the entire yard.
3. Lawnmower Attachments and Blowers – If you have a big yard, or you have a history of back pain, consider investing in a lawnmower attachment if you have a riding lawnmower, or look into leaf blowing options. These tools can help you remove leaves without the physical stress of raking. Or if you don’t want to do any of the work yourself, odds are you can find a leaf raking service or a high school student looking for some extra cash to perform the job!
4. Stay Warm – Our bodies work optimally when muscles and ligaments are loose and ready for activity, and they can get into this state more easily if they are warm. Being cold can make it harder for muscles to transition from an inactive to an active state, and this can increase your risk of injury. Dress for the weather and stay warm while you’re raking leaves to help reduce your risk of a spinal muscle injury.
5. Bend at the Knees – If you’re going to be bending in order to move leaves to a wheelbarrow or another area to aid in their removal, make sure you are bending at the knees and not at your waist. Repeatedly bending and lifting, even if it’s not a lot of weight, will take a toll on your spine. Practice proper posture when raking and bending.
Keep these tips in mind and consult with a spine specialist if you develop a back injury. For more information, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.